The Uninvited Guest

It was about 11pm after a long day of soul searching, event planning, and reaching out to people at the church I’m working with for the summer when I sat down on the couch to watch some TV before going to bed. A little while later I saw a blurry flash in the corner of my eye. It startled me as there are lots of critters [bugs] that pop up in this log cabin, which is not regularly lived in. That would be a mighty large bug with some far distance for me to see in peripheral vision like that, I thought… I pulled up and tucked in my feet on the couch, and then worked up the courage to find what zipped by, in an effort to lower my heart rate. 

 

I crawled from the couch armed with a flashlight as the cabin depends a lot on natural light. The flashlight hit the critter just right and a brown/gray mouse scurried from behind the stairs to behind the fridge, about 10 feet away. I quickly grabbed a few essentials, called my neighbor who owns all of the property around, including the cabin I’m staying in, and stayed with her in the main house for a few nights until we caught the uninvited guest in a live trap.

 

There are certainly rodents in Texas, and ‘the city’, but this was my first up close and personal experience with one! I felt a combination of vulnerability and invasion. I did not know where the mouse went and I certainly didn’t want to find out by way of it biting me! I had staked my claim on the house for the summer and that mouse had come into my space!

 

If only I had this same horrified response to sin. Here’s what I mean- 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” If I am a Christian, I believe the Bible, and strive for a holy life like Jesus Christ, then I should take this verse seriously. I should take sin, even temptation, seriously. I should be on the lookout and strategically avoid tempting situations, conversations, etc. Like many Christians, I am not as careful as I should be.

 

I am not suggesting a sort of legalistic crackdown, but instead a reconsideration or check on how comfortable we are in close proximity to sin or ‘almost’ sin or temptation. Like the mouse in the cabin, when we so much as see a blur of sin, get out! When you see the sin, do not fall into a trap of temptation and habit. Instead, make a trap to capture the sin through prayer and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and toss out the twisted mess! One of the best [or worst] lies is that you can get sin under control. What you have really done is hopefully joined the Holy Spirit in resisting what may come naturally to you in an effort toward something better- holiness. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can discern what is holy and what is not, what is pleasing to God and what is only pleasing to our self. True holiness is when what pleases God truly and deeply pleases us. Even so, do not let your guard down.

 

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” [James 1:12-15]

 

Take some time for examen. Examen of Conscious is a great kind of prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola where you consider a sort of high and low of the day. This is done best toward the end of the day or at night. Consider:

-when you sensed the most closeness with God and when you sensed the most distance from God

-what to thank God for and what to confess

-when you felt most alive and most drained

-the day’s high and low

 

Perhaps sin is most likely to happen when we forget that God is omniscient. If we are rightly focused on and acknowledging God’s presence throughout all of the day and night, then we are centered on Him and not ourselves, and less likely to be misled by sin and temptation. The point is not to do away with being God’s creation or necessarily human, but for our humanity to be perfected.

 

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” [1 Corinthians 10:13]

 

How can we resist sin?

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” [Ephesians 6:11-18]

 

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